Sunday, July 22, 2012

Homebrewed Ginger Beer

I started brewing kombucha at home several years ago now, and just recently became interested in expanding a bit further into other naturally fermented beverages (and foods!) Sourdough wasn't the biggest success for me, but a recent attempt at sauerkraut came out absolutely fantastic and has led me into a bit of an obsession. Oops.

I've been loving ginger beers for some time now, and the more I saw how simple the list of ingredients was the more I knew it was something I wanted to experiment with on my own. I recently picked up a copy of Wild Fermentation and the first recipe I found myself drawn to was of course- one for ginger beer.

I found this recipe unique, wherein most recipes for ginger beer that I've seen online rely on the addition of commercial yeast to create carbonation. This recipe has you first create a ginger "bug" a few days in advance that is added to the rest of your ingredients before bottling.

Homebrewed Ginger Beer (Gently adapted from Wild Fermentation)

Ingredients for Ginger Bug:
Several inches fresh ginger root
Pure cane sugar

Mix 2 tsp grated ginger root (skin is fine) with 2 tsp sugar, and 1 cup of water in a small jar. Stir well and store in a warm spot, covered by cheesecloth or paper towel. Continue adding 2 tsp of grated ginger and sugar daily, until ginger bug begins to look frothy or bubbly- 2 days to a week, depending. Once ginger bug is bubbling, you're ready to start your brew. If you decide to wait to brew- continuing adding sugar and ginger to your bug daily.

Ginger bug- pre-bubbles

Ingredients for Ginger Beer:
2-6 inches fresh ginger root, grated (depending on how gingery you'd like it to be)
1 1/2 cups pure cane sugar
Juice from 2 lemons

Boil 2 quarts of water. Add grated ginger root (I went for the full amount), and sugar. Boil mixture for 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely. Once mixture is cool- strain out ginger, then combine with lemon juice, and strained ginger bug. Add enough water to total 1 gallon (4 liters). Stir well, then carefully bottle. Store in a warm place for 2 weeks. Refrigerate at least several hours before opening- and open very carefully as carbonation may be very strong.

Tips on bottling: I used two 1/2 gallon growlers with screw-on lids from a local homebrew supply shop. You can also use recycled plastic soda or juice bottles, flip-top beer bottles with rubber seals, or standard beer bottles if you have a capper. Basically anything that you can safely seal. Large canning jars would also work.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Recipe: Pink Grapefruit Soda

This is incredibly simple, as far as recipes go. I've been experimenting with making my own soda flavors lately and while this one takes very minimal effort, the flavor is perfectly sweet, tart, and bold.

1 cup fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice
3/4 cup raw or organic sugar
Soda water and ice

Heat grapefruit juice over medium high heat, until it begins to simmer. Add sugar and stir until disolved. Allow to cool- then mix with desired amount of soda water and ice. I used about 1/4 cup of grapefruit syrup in a 12oz glass, which was a little sweet for my taste. Start with a few tablespoons then go from there!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Snail Bombed

Yes, I'm breaking my months long blogging hiatus because of snails. I feel really okay about that.

I was informed yesterday afternoon that the park down the street from my apartment was going to be art bombed - with giant knitted snails. I've gotten into the really glorious habit lately of actually sleeping in past 6:45 am on weekends, and figured I could probably get myself cleaned up with shoes on my feet before 9 am. Success!

The artists were encouraging people to pick one or two out to take home. The cat seems to think that they are now hers.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cape Disappointment, Astoria, OR & The 2012 FisherPoets Gathering

This past Friday post work I loaded up my tiny car and scooped up my friend Katie- we hit the road to Astoria, OR to meet up with Brittany who I hadn't seen in close to a year.

Brittany, who's also from Southeast Alaska, now living in Portland- always seems to find the most Alaskan-centered activities possible, and this trip was no different. We'd been talking about attending the 2012 FisherPoets Gathering since sometime in 2011 and it was the perfect excuse to get out of the city for the weekend and have a bit of a ridiculous adventure.

The drive down was a rainy mess, and I was beyond grateful to have Katie navigating while simultaneously feeding me pieces of quesadilla from the taco bus. We had decided to stay on the Washington side of the Columbia- in a yurt at Cape Disappointment State Park. It's about a half an hour drive between Cape Disappointment and downtown Astoria but it takes you through some sweet little communities with plenty of fun signs to read. Over and over again.

Our first night was fairly uneventful. There was a bit of miscommunication and a lack of cell service, but we all ended up at the yurt, warm and dry and safe from the freakishly aggressive band of park racoons. We somehow managed to bring enough food to feed about six people for a week, and regardless still ate mostly cheese and grapes.

Saturday morning we headed to Astoria- the plan being to check out a few of the FisherPoets events, and then to see what other sorts of trouble we could get into.

Our first stop was Pier 39, where we went through a self-guided tour of the old BumbleBee Seafood cannery. "Work Is Our Joy" was the phrase of the weekend- used in a lot of the poetry readings. I found it a little off-putting, but there's some really intense gillnetting history tied into it. More information via Salmon For All if you're interested.

 There had originally been a tour scheduled on one of the local fishing boats, but unfortunately it was moved due to the weather- you can't tell from the photo, but there was really intense wind and hail almost all day Saturday.

I'm pretty sure this was the entire old outboard motor show.

Huge, old, really neat canning equipment.

There were some beautiful old fishing boats on display as well- I couldn't get over how tiny the fish trap skiffs were!

From the waterfront we headed up a few blocks to the Fort George Brewery. February is stout month, and while I'm not normally much of a stout drinker- their Kentucky Tart Stout was absolutely phenomenal. We hung out in the brewpub for a good chunk of time, deciding to wait for their 1 PM brewery tour. We were very serious.

The tour was short and sweet, and the brewery smelled mysteriously of fresh oysters. I really love that so many small breweries are starting to can their beer. 

Brittany photo bomb!

Cutest hot water tank ever!

Post brewery tour we did a little bit of wandering, and ended up at the Astoria Heritage Museum. It was tiny and covered a lot of history in a few small rooms. My favorite was the upstairs- the largest room was nearly half full of vintage coin banks.

At this point we headed back over the bridge with the intention of taking a serious nap before our evening began. Easily distracted- we ended up instead at the North Head Lighthouse.

Once thoroughly napped and full of fruit and cheese, we headed back into Astoria for spoken word and music by The Ratfish Wranglers at The VooDoo Room, then finished out our night at the beloved Sea Hag.

On Sunday morning I decided that it would be fun to get the flu, and ended up cutting our plans for the day brutally short. A quick stop at the beach to check out driftwood, and we were back on the road fairly early.

All in all a great weekend, and much needed trip out of the city.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wrapping Up 2011

Around the end-ish of each year I like to go back over the goals that I set for myself the previous year, before setting new goals for the year ahead. 2011 did not quite go as planned, but by no means would I consider it a failure. It was an interesting one.

1. Do things that terrify, embarrass, startle, and otherwise freak me out
I'd consider this the biggest success of all time. I ended a relationship that had been my absolute rock and place of consistency and security for three years. I moved into a place on my own for the first time in my life. I asked for a bigger raise at work (and got it!), I swam with a whale shark (briefly, in six foot seas and open water, and mildly panicked the entire time). Ultimately- I completely restructured my life, stopped shying away from the unfamiliar, and learned to start trusting my own gut more than ever before. It is not the journey that I had intended for myself by any means, but it has been the most significant.

2. Learn more about the joys of yeast and fermentation.
I'd call this questionable. While I started working with sourdough fairly early on in the year- in coming to terms with my gluten intolerance as well as moving into an apartment with the most inconsistent temperature range (ever!) I really let this one slip aside. Bread baking may not be a consistent thing for me, but my love for kombucha, kimchee, and all other things vinegary and mildly terrifying has not faded. 2012 might just be the perfect year for strange fermented things.

3. Go places, take classes, and make things.
2011 was: a gyotaku class in Portland, a four-week mushroom identification class through The Puget Sound Mycological Society, a very successful mushroom hunting trip, the best cupcakes I've ever made, two types of homemade cereal (granola, and amaranth). I also took swim lessons, made recipe after recipe of mediocre gluten free cookies, and spent a whole lot of time tromping around in the woods and mud.

4. Run a full marathon and start training for a triathlon.
Hah! Oops. While I did run my second half marathon (and cut 15 minutes off my previous time!) life really got in the way of any other training. An injury in October led to me having to wear this lovely thing for three weeks, and my foot still isn't fully healed. I'm signed up for my third half marathon this coming March, and will again aim to run my first full marathon in the next year.

5. Go somewhere I've never been before.
Success! Chimacum & Point No Point, Canon Beach, Whidby Island, Guemes Island (favorite!), Port Townsend, Crystal Mountain, and most wonderfully of all- La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico!

Did 2011 throw any surprises your way?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Slow Food Seattle & Canning Wild Pacific Albacore

A few months ago I was invited to apply for a position on the board of directors with Slow Food Seattle, my local chapter of Slow Food International. I was thrilled to come on as their new treasurer, and while I'm definitely still finding my feet- yesterday was my first Slow Food event, and I had an absolutely fantastic time of it.

Jeremy Brown, charming tuna fisherman and canning expert- came down from Bellingham with 800 pounds of locally caught Wild Pacific Albacore tuna and a whole lot of patience. He talked members through the process of canning tuna- from cleaning and trimming fish to stuffing jars and testing for a proper seal. It was at times chaotic and crowded, always cold, and absolutely smelly. We had a seriously great day. And a tremendous "thank you" to Gourmondo for hosting us!

Step 1: Cutting tuna into chunks, removing skin and guts
Step 2: Fine trimming, cutting tuna into smaller pieces to fit into jars
Packing jars
Step 3: Adding salt, olive oil, and our special "secret" ingredient
Filled and cleaned jars waiting to go into the pressure cookers
Step 4: 90 minutes in the pressure cooker
Checking pressure. Yes it takes four people.
Removing cooked jars 
Cleaning and separating unsealed jars
Cooling- the bubbles in the jars are a good sign- it means pressure is built up and they're properly sealed.
Waiting on the last three cookers to finish.
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